“A Night of Cole Porter” By Linda Amiel Burns
When Michael Feinstein first heard John Proulx, he booked him immediately for a four-month run playing piano bar at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency and has been his champion ever since saying that “it takes a lot of imagination as well as natural talent to make jazz standards sound fresh and vital. John sings and plays so beautifully and is an outstanding songwriter as well. He’s simply a joy to hear.”
John Proulx gave a dazzling show at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency celebrating the songs of Cole Porter. He said he had a lot in common with Cole Porter as they both were brought up in the mid-west and began playing violin and piano at a young age. John comes from a musical family as his grandfather, Clyde Proulx was a jazz guitarist who introduced him to the world of jazz. About 10 years ago he left Grand Rapids, Michigan and moved to Los Angeles.
The show began with John singing “Night & Day” offstage and then sitting down at the piano and joining his trio consisting of the remarkable Jay Leonhart on bass, and on drums, another amazing musician, Alvin Atkinson. Together they presented a terrific evening bringing fresh sounds and harmonies to the brilliant Cole Porter songs. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” was played and sung in a Latin rhythm with a fine bass solo by Jay. At one point, Jay and John performed dueling scats on “I Love You” from Mexican Hayride. An instrumental arrangement of “Love for Sale” showcased the brilliant and easy style of John’s piano playing. A highlight of the evening, “What is this Thing Called Love” was performed with only vocals and drum accompaniment allowing John to sing center stage. “Every Time We Say Goodbye” was especially poignant as John said the life of a traveling musician makes him leave his family and 4-year-old daughter all too often.
John performed one of his own composition “Stuck in a Dream with Me” and pointed out that Cole Porter used a lot of switching from major to minor keys as he had done in that song. One of my favorites was John’s rendition of “It’s All Right With Me” from Can Can, one of Cole’s longest running shows. John pointed out that what makes these songs so great is that every musician can find new ways to perform them, and “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, “ the closing song, proved that. John returned for an encore of what he said was Cole’s least favorite song, but certainly not ours, “Don’t Fence Me In,” probably his only “Western-style” song.
The next time John Proulx is in town, don’t miss seeing this talented young composer, jazz pianist, vocalist who brings new and creative stylings to classic songs as well as his own compositions.
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